Last week, Rhode Island’s Democratic-controlled house and senate voted in favor of allowing the Division of Motor Vehicles to sell “Choose Life” license plates designed by CareNet Pregnancy Center of Rhode Island.
The bipartisan bill seeks to make Rhode Island the 30th state to allow pro-life advocates to display their message on license plates. The plates will cost $40, with half of the proceeds going to CareNet RI to “support the alternative choices of infant adoption and Rhode Island’s Safe Haven.” The 2003 Safe Haven law aims to discourage women from having abortions by granting immunity to a parent who relinquishes an infant less than 30 days old to an open hospital, fire station, police station, or other medical-emergency facility.
Choose Life Inc., a nonprofit based in Florida, has been advocating for the plates across the country since 1996. Sales of plates bearing the “Choose Life” logo have raised $16 million nationwide for groups like CareNet.
The Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Justice and the Rhode Island National Organization for Women have issued statements against the bill, claiming that it is “the first standalone floor vote against women’s health in decades” and is meant to appease “the radical right.” They have called on pro-choice governor Lincoln Chafee to veto the legislation, claiming the “the state should not inject itself into the emotional and contentious debate surrounding abortion.” LifeNews.com points out the hypocrisy in this, as pro-choice activists consistently demand that the state expand funding for abortions and contraceptives.
Governor Chafee has stated that he is “very concerned” about the bill, despite the support it received from both sides in the state legislature.